Graduate stories: Emily Skyrme

Which of your top skills did LANS help you to develop and how did it prepare you for the graduate job market?

Emily SkyrmeWith more people going to university now than ever before, it is not necessarily enough to just have a degree and know you’ll get a job. Employers have the pick of hundreds of people per position and so you’ll need to stand out – and LANS students do. We have that depth of expertise and breadth of knowledge that perhaps others haven’t had the opportunity to develop. We have the experience of going abroad for a whole year – uprooting yourself and succeeding in another country and another academic system. We understand that education is not just oriented around the classroom – it is rooted in every cultural event and society that we take part in. And in a world where jobs are constantly evolving and advances in technology create completely new jobs, employers want graduates like us.

Reminiscing on the wider uni life, what’s one thing you loved about being a student in Birmingham?

The new challenges and opportunities that were offered to me - I joined the music society, was part of the group who founded the LANS society, worked as a waitress at uni, joined the sailing club on my year abroad (I couldn’t sail at all at the time), gained an internship with a professional Australian orchestra, managed my host university’s orchestral tour to China when abroad, played club hockey, was a student ambassador and student representative, and gained an internship bursary from the university. In my interviews, most of the time was spent talking about these experiences, the skills I gained from them and how they could help within a new job.

What are you doing in the present and which new career pathways have you found yourself taking since graduating?

In September, I will be starting my new job as a Graduate Area Manager with Aldi. After a one-year training programme I will have managerial control of between 3-5 stores. I applied for this job in Easter and after a five-stage application process (written application, psychometric tests, video interview, group assessment centre, one-to-one interview with regional manager), I received my offer of employment in June. I am one of about 80 people from 30,000 who got the job this year. And the first questions I got asked in my interview? “What exactly is Liberal Arts and Sciences?” and “Why, with a major in Music are you applying for a managerial role?”

Where do you see yourself in five years time? (specifically, in terms of your career goals)

I have no idea what the long-term future has in store for me. I am extremely excited to start this new part of my life, learning about the ins and outs of my favourite supermarket (!), and gaining skills and experiences that will be vital no matter what I do next. I might move on to work in another area of management, another industry or even open a cake shop (as I dreamt of when I was 3). What I do know, however, is that I have given myself the best possible start and have no regrets.  The last four years have been crazy – lots of ups, some downs and it’s all been extremely busy.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d wish you’d known when you were a LANS student? /What one piece of advice would you give to our current students to prepare them for life after uni?

I do have a couple tips which I hope will help any LANS (or prospective LANS) student during or after your degree:

Know why your LANS degree is impressive

  • What specific skills/expertise/experiences do you have? (and practice talking about it in an interview setting!)

Work to build up a large extra-curricular base of experience

  • Whether it’s an interest in a sport/hiking/music/theatre, paid or voluntary work experience

Seek out every opportunity and take it!

  • Your year abroad might be an ideal place to do this – try something new